Gardaí quiz 12 people as part of ongoing investigation into 'paedophile ring'
Gardaí have arrested 12 people as part of an ongoing investigation into a suspected paedophile ring operating in the Munster area.
A significant operation involving several gardaí and detectives was carried out throughout yesterday and a number of people were arrested for questioning.
They were being held at several different Garda stations in relation to child sexual abuse and child exploitation offences.
A source told the Irish Independent that the majority of those currently being quizzed were previously arrested as part of the major Garda investigation.
Specific details of the investigation or alleged offences cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.
Those arrested could be quizzed for several hours before any decision is made to bring charges against them or release them pending a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
A Garda spokesman said: "Gardaí have arrested a number of people in relation to an ongoing investigation.
"They are currently detained in Garda stations in the Southern and Western Regions of An Garda Síochána."
In a previous operation, six men and five women were detained but later released without charge.
Those detained on that occasion were aged from their 20s to their 70s.
The Garda investigation has been ongoing for some time and almost 20 victims have been identified.
A source said that specialist Garda interviewers have been brought in to deal with the "highly sensitive" case.
Gardaí are also liaising with a number of other agencies as part of the significant probe.
At a previous court sitting related to the investigation, a judge imposed sweeping reporting restrictions.
During that hearing, the media were warned that strict reporting restrictions were in place over the matter and any breach of the court orders involved would result in serious consequences.
The judge issued the warning after an application from Tusla, the child protection agency, for clarity from the court in respect of previous orders made in respect of publicity over the ongoing case.
Muiris Gavin for Tusla asked for clarification given that orders were previously made by the court under Sections 28, 18 and 17 of the Childcare Act, 1991.
The Tusla request for clarification was supported by Thomas Wallace O'Donnell, for An Garda Síochána, and by solicitors acting for the guardians of the children involved.
Tusla had raised specific concerns during the hearing about some media reports having comment sections available online - some of which were used for commentary which included specific material leading to identification concerns.
In response to a query from Tusla, the presiding judge said she had no difficulty with the media reporting the hearing in respect of their responsibilities and existing court orders.